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Last Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Pollution - How It Can Affect Your Child's Lungs?

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Dr. Mool Chand GuptaPulmonologist • 47 Years Exp.MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
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Air pollution is known to take a toll on the lungs of even the healthiest adults. So, it comes as no surprise that the effects of this pollution on the lungs of children is deemed as a grave situation, full of health hazards including the onset of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorders and conditions like asthma and other lung disorders. Read on to find out more about the link between air pollution and its effect on the lungs of children.

Children's Lungs: Mostly, all the organs of a child's body are considered delicate and not fully matured until the child reaches a certain age. The main and largest part of the child's lungs will usually grow only after the child is born, much like the arms and legs. In fact, it is a medically proven fact that about 80% of the tiniest of air sacs grow after the child's birth, these are called the alveoli and they facilitate the transfer of the oxygen into the bloodstream with a life-sustaining function that is built into our lungs. These alveoli continue to grow until the child becomes an adult. 

Immunity and Infections: Like the lungs of the child, the immunity of the child is also still in its growth phase, and is very much, unlike the immunity that an adult enjoys. This makes the child more susceptible to infections that are usually carried by air pollution in today's day and age of urban living when myriad pollutants are sent into the air every single day. Also, since children play outdoors more often and spend more time breathing in this air, they are more prone to these infections and lung or respiratory ailments due to this reason. Various studies and tests have shown inflammation in the respiratory passages caused by deposits of carbon dioxide emissions in the lungs of children.

Symptoms: Usually, the very first symptoms that show that air pollution is affecting your child's lungs can be seen when persistent coughing and wheezing sets in, without any proper reason. Also, when the child faces bronchial infections time and time again, all these are indicators of hazardous effects of air pollution in children.

Respiratory problems: Apart from respiratory problems, which can lead to asthmatic attacks, hay fever and allergies as well as other COPD ailments, there are other related dangers as well. These can happen when constant choking and obstruction of oxygen due to pollution becomes a regular affair. These include stroke and brain damage which can eventually also lead to a higher risk of dementia. 

How can you protect your child during such times?

  1. Restrict outdoor activity for the time being, especially during the early morning and evening
  2. Make sure that your child wears a face mask when outside, preferably N95 or 99
  3. Use air purifiers at home 
  4. Go green and use indoor plants that can remove indoor toxins
  5. Boost your child's immunity
  6. Lastly, keep a track of air quality index in your locality

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